Does Your Pediatrician or Family Doctor Do Housecalls?
The American Academy of Family Physicians, AAFP, reports that although demand for the housecalls is building, the number of family physicians making house calls is shrinking. In a 2010 AAFP survey, 19 percent of Academy members said they made at least one house call a week. By 2013, the number had fallen to 13 percent, and only 3 percent of respondents reported making more than two house calls a week.
Even with fewer doctors doing housecalls, the need is growing and growth potential is high due to a rapidly growing elderly population. By 2030, the number of Americans age 65 and older will account for 20 percent of the U.S. population. By 2038, the nation’s elderly population is expected to double to 72 million — or roughly the current population of the state of California, Florida and Illinois combined. Two-thirds of the people in this age group have multiple chronic conditions and likely would need regular health care visits, which they may have difficulty accessing.
A doctors on demand housecalls business shows great potential for good patient outcomes and lower health care costs by catching relatively small problems before they become crises, and keeping patients with chronic conditions and mobility issues out of the ER. A pilot program created by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is documenting how providing housecalls lowered Medicare costs for Medicare patients by $25 million in its first year.
Home-based primary care (HBPC) is a mobile care innovation that focuses delivering medical and social services to elderly with severe and disabling chronic illnesses, who find it difficult to get to a doctor’s office. This HBPC Veteran’s Administration program lowered total VA costs by 24% and Medicare costs were lowered by 11%.
The New York Times reports that Heal, an Uber-doctor housecall smartphone app, that began in Los Angeles in February 2015, recently expanded to San Francisco and is set to roll out in another 15 major cities this year. Also, San Francisco-based Doctor on Demand app, which is backed by Google and the television personality Phil McGraw offers access to 1,400 board-certified physicians. It has been downloaded a few million times since it was introduced in late 2013. In addition to these apps there are several other apps operating in local markets such as New York and Philadelphia.
Due to the aging population, the need for doctors housecalls will increase in the coming decades. This coupled with the trend that Medicare will be leveraging this type of service, since it provides excellent patient care at a cost savings, is likely cause an increase in housecalls that will benfit us all.
Ms. Jensen is a leading advocate for families and children and was the founder and president of ACES, The Association for Children for Enforcement of Support.
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